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09/14/2020

Comments

Savannah Corey

I really appreciated the organization of Seth's article because it clearly outlined the mechanisms by which General Park's military regime led to the rapid economic development of South Korea. I found Park's use of foreign aid from the United States and Japan to fund investments in education, a skilled labor force, HCI, and technological advancement very interesting. In particular, I found it captivating how the United States supplied South Korean firms, like Hyundai with lucrative contacts to complete construction projections in Vietnam to gain technological experience. I found this type of foreign investment very interesting as it diverges from forms of traditional direct aid that I am aware of. Another aspect of this article that I enjoyed was the discussion of the chaebols. Seth illustrates that the chaebols were family-run conglomerates tied by low inheritance taxes and marriage networks, which I thought was interesting in a traditional sense because it is not customary in the United States for familial ties to influence the economy. Likewise, Seth's depiction of the chaebols highlights an idealistic perfectly competitive market with no corruption, efficiency, and a diversity of activities. While I understand that the lack of social a welfare safety net and the bonus system encouraged high rates of savings and that the state increased prices it paid for agricultural produce, how were the farmers totally protected? With a major transformation in the social fabric of the country from a rural to an urban society, how did citizens avoid falling through the cracks? Moreover, even though South Korea joined the OECD in 1996, Seth highlights that the "quality of life had not reached the levels of developed countries," illustrating the importance of factors other than capital investment and technological advancement.

Eric Schleicher

This article presents some key topics regarding South Korea’s economic development in the latter half of the 20th century, with most of its gains starting around 1961 with the new military government. Something that caught my interest, though, was how the country was primed for this economic expansion in the decades before, namely with dramatic increases in school enrollment and land reform. Throughout the beginning of the article, the importance of American economic aid was a focus, and surely the development and pursuit of greater amounts of schooling for citizens was helped with American aid. Though, it is of course important not just to have schools, but to have good schools. Although the American aid was allowing for the infrastructure to create schools and hire employees, what other factors enabled South Korea to produce such an effective school system beyond just what money could buy? Additionally, this reading relates back to the original reading we had for Monday of this week. Although some mechanisms of economic development in this circumstance for South Korea may have seemed unorthodox by some western standards (military government, decreasing reliance on foreign aid, subsidizing export industries, etc), South Korea was able to effectively apply them within the cultural contexts of the country during that period, which allowed them to successfully ameliorate their economic situation as much as they did.

Adelaide Burton

Learning about South Korea’s unique path to economic development really proved the point of the growth strategies paper that claimed there was no straight path to development. Unique features of South Korea’s culture and politics formed the right means of development for its citizens. Unlike the American idea that the economy will grow through free markets and innovation, South Korea’s military government was able to gradually loosen control of the markets while still holding the reigns of certain controls. An interesting example was the discouragement of luxury goods and campaigns for family planning and birth control as means to promote saving. While in the US that would be likely condemned as overly parental governance, it was based on sound economic evidence and overall resulted in increased economic prosperity. Also interesting was the focus on education, which improved the quality of the labor force and allowed the country to modernize industry and grow beyond just manufacturing jobs. By improving education and health standards, South Korea not only improved the country economically, but it followed Sen’s idea of development as the expansion of freedoms.

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